Tron founder Justin Sun sparked controversy this week by promising to give away a Tesla to a lucky Twitter follower who retweeted his post. He’s now giving away two, according to a statement released on Friday.
A video of the random selection identified a Washington, DC-based account, @uzgaroth, as the first winner. However, Sun immediately followed suit with tweets alleging the selection process was flawed.
Sun would try again to select a new winner with a live video after testing a process with a giveaway in China on the Weibo social network. Instead of the Tesla, Sun offered the thwarted participant a free ticket to the next Tron conference in 2020.
After several hours of backlash on social media, Sun made the following statement about Medium:
“I happily decided to give away two Teslas to advance my mission to create transparency, reliability and openness in relation to blockchain.”
We reached out to both contestants, including the second winner in Vietnam, a user named @LeoHuynhPro, and will update them if we hear anything. The original March 12 tweet promised this automobile giveaway was just the beginning, adding that Sun was also planning to give away $ 20 million in a “free cash airdrop.”
In response to the Tesla controversy, Tron spokesman Cliff Edwards told CoinDesk that Sun is “giving away money to fans to increase interest in the industry,” added:
“This is a Justin initiative, not Tron or BitTorrent. This is Justin personally giving his Twitter fans the chance to win a car. “
This contradicts earlier statements Edwards made to CoinDesk in January regarding a job advertisement for Sun’s personal assistant. “Since Tron is self-funded by Justin, the two are essentially one and the same,” Edwards said at the time.
For that giveaway, Edwards told CoinDesk Friday, the money came from Sun’s personal fortune from previous ventures, not the $ 70 million raised during the Tron token sale in 2017, or the 7.2 million US dollars raised from the BitTorrent token sale earlier this year.
Regardless of the source of funds, this is not the first time Sun or the Tron Foundation have been accused of failing to keep their promises to the competition winners.
In December 2018, the Tron Foundation sponsored a Tron Accelerator Hackathon, in which the 56 best teams were promised cash rewards totaling US $ 1 million.
But Edwards said there were so many high quality entries in the end that Sun decided to give “more winners” “less money”.
“Awards and freebies are always full of people complaining that they aren’t getting the money, as opposed to when other people are getting the money,” Edwards told CoinDesk. “Justin made it very clear to everyone why he did it and actually raised the jackpot.”
A member of one of the winning teams, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid associating with a company they no longer believe to be legitimate, told CoinDesk that it only received half of the funds promised. The member described this remote hackathon as a “shit show” that didn’t live up to professional standards. Alleged price cuts and other disappointments sparked incredulous speculation in the Reddit and Discord communities. Some developers claimed their contributions were not considered at all.
The winner told CoinDesk:
“I actually think so [the Tron Foundation] is a lot more money than you want to admit. That was given to us [the reduced, $10,000 prize] in tether. “
In an official Tron Foundation blog post in January 2019 announcing the winners – neither Sun nor an increased jackpot – 113 projects were ultimately selected to share the original $ 1 million prizes. In defense of Sun, Edwards said the mogul is trying to be both transparent and generous in order to promote wider reach.
Regarding how, like the Tesla giveaway, the hackathon also distributed Justin’s personal money under its prerogative, Edwards said:
“This is Justin who sets the rules for these things. This is Justin’s money, not Tron or BitTorrent. “
Justin Sun Image by Brady Dale for CoinDesk